President of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce Mick Holding warned yesterday that more businesses may close their doors if Grand Bahama’s tourism sector does not show signs of improvement early in the new year.
While Holding expects 2018 to be a positive year for Grand Bahama, he insisted that businesses in the Port Lucaya Marketplace cannot continue to operate without some sign of economic reform.
The Grand Lucayan resort complex remains closed, making it difficult for businesses directly impacted by tourism to stay open on the island.
The property has been treated as one of Freeport’s last hopes for an economic resurrection.
But Holding told Guardian Business that some businesses have already closed as a result of the prolonged reopening.
He added that other businesses are simply “hanging in there”.
“I think that, particularly in the tourist sector, that if something does not happen early in the new year with the prospect of things improving in spring/summer, regrettably, I can see a number of other businesses closing,” Holding said.
Grand Bahama’s economic fate is significantly hinged on the reopening of this resort. And despite government’s campaign promise to make Grand Bahama’s struggling economy bullish, residents remain concerned.
Holding added that the economic impact of the hotel’s closure also goes beyond the Port Lucaya area.
He said tour operators are still surviving, “but they are not doing brilliantly well”.
Nevertheless, Holding said he thinks that the early part of 2018 will bring “some positive and good news to us”.
Residents of Grand Bahama are waiting to hear about the government’s next move regarding the three-piece hotel strip.
In October, the government made a purchase offer to Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa for the embattled Grand Lucayan property.
A month after the government’s announcement, Paul Wynn, CEO of Canadian real estate development company Wynn Group, said his company’s offer to purchase the Grand Lucayan resort complex in Freeport is back on the table.
He made a decision to pull out of the resort’s bid to purchase in August.
To date, however, there has been no confirmation from the government on the status of negotiations regarding the sale of the resort.
The start of the new year will mark almost 15 months since the resort was closed.
Some GB businesses ‘hanging in there’